We know the heartbreaking stories. Columbine, Platte Canyon High School, Aurora movie theater, STEM school in our state. Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas, Sutherland Springs Church nationally. Every event, every death, every injury is a tragedy that we all want to prevent. After every tragedy, we hear the call for elected officials to “do something”. Unfortunately, the “something” called for, and frequently implemented, does not address the issues and will not prevent another tragedy. Yes, people commit murder with guns. They also commit murder with knives, clubs, hammers, cars and with their hands and feet. In fact, 1 out of every 3 murders in the U.S. is committed using a weapon other than a gun.
The “something” that we need to address is the killer. There has never been a gun, a knife, or a club float off a counter or out of a closet and kill another human being. The weapon has always been in the hands of a killer. The vast majority of individuals suffering from mental health illness will never become violent towards others. But it is a fact that the majority of killers who commit mass public shootings do indeed suffer from mental health illness. Rarely discussed but equally important is that individuals suffering from substance abuse issues have a much more robust relationship to future violent actions by a factor of 7-9 times compared to those suffering mental health illness by itself. Unfortunately, many killers, including mass killers, are simply full of rage.
The recently passed Red Flag law, while well intentioned, will have minimal effect on potential murders or other violent crimes because it focuses on a single weapon rather than the true “something”. We must address the individual. If there is a legitimate concern about an individual being dangerous to themselves or others, then the individual needs to be subject to court ordered evaluation and treatment, including in-patient evaluation if the threat is considered imminent. This evaluation must address not only potential mental health issues, but also substance abuse issues. Simply taking away a gun still leaves knives in the kitchen, a baseball bat in the closet, a tire iron in the trunk, and even the car in the garage as potential weapons that can be used to commit wide scale violence and murder of innocent persons.
Beyond using the courts to protect our citizens, I believe that the State of Colorado must respect YOUR individual right to decide how YOU desire to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you want to rely on the local police, that is your decision. If you want to take self-defense classes, that is your decision. If you want to protect yourself with a gun, that is your decision. The State does not place restrictions on your ability to call the police or take a class. It should not place artificial restrictions on your ability to own or carry a gun. Criminals and killers will do what they want regardless of the law (that is why they are criminals!). In fact, all of the above-mentioned tragedies took place in “gun free” zones. I will fight for your right to do what YOU believe appropriate to protect yourself and your loved ones from these criminals.
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